This Day in History: 1656-07-11

On 11th July 1656, Mary Fisher of Pontefract, and another preacher, Ann Austin, were the first Quakers to visit the English North American colonies arriving in Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Colony on board the Swallow. Having already converted the island of Barbados’s Lieutenant Governor to Quakerism, their reception by the New England Puritans was decidedly more hostile and they were imprisoned for five weeks, undressed in public and examined for signs of witchcraft with their books and pamphlets burned, then deported back to Barbados. A 1658 mission ‘testifying to the Universal Light’ (her words) to the Ottoman Empire to explain Quakerism to Sultan Mehmed IV was received attentively and ‘he was very noble unto me and so were all that were about him’.